Get to Know Your South Carolina EMS Association

The makeup of South Carolina Emergency Medical Services (EMS) is just as diverse as the men and women that rise to the occasion and respond to the nearly 1.2 million calls for service that we field each year. While there are many opinions on the direction and evolution of EMS, we can all agree that the landscape of our industry is changing. Your South Carolina EMS Association (SCEMSA) exists to serve as your collective voice as these changes are negotiated, regardless of your affiliation type or position within an organization.

Perhaps like many of you, I did not really understand what the SCEMSA was all about, who could or should participate, and why having a professional association was so important. I attended my first meeting over a decade ago and most of the discussion seemed to be over my head or not relevant to my level of experience. What I did not realize then was that the strength of a professional organization lies in having a strong sectional representation of all stakeholders — including me.

Since then your SCEMSA has been through some changes. Following a recent bylaw change, we are proud to announce that our Board of Directors has representation from all facets of SC EMS. Our membership is comprised of individual members, public and private providers, air ambulance, fire based, hospital based, technical colleges, regional EMS offices, associate members and more. In fact, membership is at an all-time high.

These are exciting times for us as we are continuing to strengthen our presence at the state and national level. We are engaging with the stakeholders such as the South Carolina Hospital Association, South Carolina Bureau of EMS, South Carolina Fire Chiefs Association, South Carolina Firefighters Association, South Carolina Office of Rural Health, SC Office of Healthcare Workforce, University of South Carolina, and many more.

In late 2017, we recognized a need to address some of the concerns surrounding workforce sustainability. To accomplish this, we established subcommittees to drive our research. Targeting the major areas of concern the Workforce Planning and Development, Health and Safety, Education, Membership, and Legislative subcommittees were formed. These subcommittees seek involvement from providers at all levels of experience to ensure that we address EMS concerns from all perspectives. The subcommittees published a workforce study in conjunction with the South Carolina Office of Healthcare Workforce in December of 2018 and then followed up with an evaluation of the EMS education pipeline in June of 2019. These documents provide valuable, meaningful data that can be used to quantify the workforce shortages we face in order to adopt strategies to mitigate workforce concerns moving forward.

Your SCEMSA is also actively involved in legislation. We hosted our second annual legislative breakfast in March, which was a tremendous success. The event was well attended by both EMS providers as well as the General Assembly. A delegation from the SCEMSA attended EMS on the Hill Day in Washington, D.C. earlier in April. We are actively working on issues such as PTSD, retirement, access to education and funding, assault on the healthcare worker and more.

In addition to the items above, you will see a new membership management platform rollout in January along with a new, more user-friendly website with members only content. We have hosted several workshops such as ET3 overview and are always looking to provide unmet resources to agencies and individuals alike. The SCEMSA is here to serve everyone with an interest in SC EMS.

Though we have our struggles, each of you should be proud of the work you do and proud of being a part of South Carolina EMS. We all have a role to play in the future of our profession and the role of the SCEMSA is best stated in our mission statement: “Improving EMS through Advocacy, Collaboration, and Education.” I would like to personally invite each of you to check out the SCEMSA and see what we are doing. Whether you have never attended a meeting or have not attended in a while, we have a place for you. Our next meeting will be in Columbia on December 12. Please follow us on Facebook or check out our website for more information. You can also contact me directly with any questions or concern.

Thank you all for your service and dedication to this profession. I hope to see you in December!​

Henry Lewis has served in EMS in South Carolina for 18 years. Lewis is employed by Richland County Emergency Services as the Project Coordinator with responsibilities in EMS, logistics, oversight of the South Carolina’s only Mobile Integrated Healthcare Collaborative, and Emergency Management. His career began with the volunteer fire service in Fairfield County where he still serves as a volunteer today. Henry is former EMT and Fire Instructor, sits on numerous committees at the state and national level, and is serving his final year as the President of the South Carolina EMS Association. Contact:

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